Rachel Lindsay vied for Nick Viall‘s heart on season 21 of The Bachelor, now she’s on her own journey to find love on the latest season of The Bachelorette — and she’s blogging about it exclusively for PEOPLE! Follow Rachel on Twitter at @TheRachLindsay!
Welcome back Bachelor Nation. This is the week I really fell in love — with Geneva that is! This city is one of the most darling destinations in the world I’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring. It also happens to be the setting for one of the most emotional weeks in this entire experience. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to choose which of these amazing men I would ask to take me to their hometowns, but I’ll try to explain it all right now.
One sentiment Chris Harrison shared with me from very beginning is that there are no rules on this journey. Knowing this week was the last opportunity to test each of my remaining relationships before heading into the unknown waters of hometowns, I chose to forego a rose ceremony at the end of the week and give one rose on each of the four dates I had planned. If I waited I knew I would get in my head and I would start applying that lawyer logic to judgments that are best made with my heart. In my heart I knew the greater the risk, the greater the reward, but I totally underestimated the emotional toll it would take on me.
That being said, the decision to make that change didn’t make the week any easier. Pulling Bryan for the first date of the week, his second one-on-one date with me, was the right choice for our relationship at the time. I knew that. But doing it in front of both Adam and Matt, who had not had a one-on-one date yet, was more difficult than I had expected.
In a perfect world I would have enough roses and time to take every guy on multiple one-on-one dates until all my decisions could be made with complete confidence. But that’s not the reality of this journey. At times I had to be selfish and focus on the relationships that held the most potential. Some dates just lend themselves better to certain men. Some more passionate connections needed extra focus to make sure the feelings were genuine before hometowns. Other relationships that weren’t quite as far along could still get there with the right conversations on a group date. I prayed the men understood that my intentions and decisions were not completely selfish because every single one was made with the ultimate goal of making one of these men the happiest and most loved husband they ever dreamed they could be.
Kicking things off, the date with Bryan was all about embracing the luxurious lifestyle Geneva offers. It is one of the most glamorous cities in all of Europe. Rolling up to the Breitling store in a Bentley and perusing the gold- and diamond-encrusted watches could have gone straight to my head as fast as the champagne we sipped on as we shopped. Yet, when I chose the two watches for us to keep, it wasn’t about the bling. It was about owning a token that represented a time when we were both falling for each other that could be held on to for decades. Even to pass down to our children if the relationship kept going in the right direction.
Sitting down to dinner that night, I wanted to dig into Bryan’s past relationships. Our time together had been so effortless and smooth that I wanted to know more about how he handled difficult times in his love life. He had touched on his last serious relationship ending because his ex-girlfriend had a tumultuous introduction to his family. Seeing how we had only touched on that issue and it was never resolved, that was something I needed to know more about before I could decide if I was ready to go home with him to Miami. But just as he had quelled all my fears of his charm being insincere weeks ago, his honesty about past commitment issues and how he’s moved past them eased my anxiety again. The night ended with him dancing his way into a hometown with me in his arms.
After such a glamorous date with Bryan, I wanted to experience a different side of Geneva with Dean. Church is very important in my life, but I’d never been to a Catholic mass. I figured attending a service together would be a unique way to experience Sunday as Genevans do. This Catholic mass sure was different from my services at home, but it felt really great to have a day to reflect and pray.
After mass, Dean and I met with the congregation for coffee and breakfast pastries next door. We met the locals and asked them all about Geneva. One man in particular was very taken with us. He wouldn’t stop talking, but about … what? I couldn’t tell you! He kept going and going — in FRENCH! Dean and I didn’t have the heart to stop him so we just smiled and nodded. Eventually we said our goodbyes and continued on to explore the rest of Geneva.
Dean was cute and fun during our morning at mass and afternoon exploring Geneva’s old town, but I already knew that side of him. We needed to take our conversation to a more profound place to see if this relationship could have depth. But Dean didn’t seem ready to go there yet. Something was holding him back and he kept steering the conversation back to dinosaurs and tooth fairies. Going into the dinner portion I was skeptical I would be handing out a rose that night. He had one chance to change my mind.
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Then once again Dean completely shocked me with his candidness and courage. As he shared the extent of which the loss of his mother as teenager led to him feeling abandoned by his remaining family. I began to understand why he fled serious topics earlier.
I hadn’t realized how hard it must have been to be in the hotel suite with all the other guys who were so excited about potentially having me meet their families when Dean was so afraid to introduce me to his. The fact that he delved into details regarding his difficult past, details he told me he had never shared with even his closest friends, made me realize just how much of his heart he was putting on the line for me.
I knew giving him a rose meant going to a hometown that wasn’t going to be stress-free. I knew it might get very painful for him, yet I didn’t hesitate. I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to support him. That’s how I knew I was falling for him. When Dean opens up he is truly one of the most beautiful people you will ever meet.
My last one-on-one was with Peter. Our relationship at that point had been exceptional in that while it always felt as strong as any other, Peter is very cautious with the words that have to do with love. He will make you feel love in so many different little ways, like gifts or how he is also completely focused on me in every moment we share no matter how crazy things all around us may be.
I admit I struggle with the word love, too, and like the little gap in our smiles it’s actually endearing that we share that. I left my struggle, however, back on Nick’s season. I promised myself that I would be open to love and completely put myself and my heart out there because that is the only way this was going to work for me. Remember … the greater the risk, the greater the reward. So the question is becoming, Is Peter willing to let himself go and take the same risks with me?
I took Peter in the helicopter to Glacier 3000 because he is so down-to-earth that even the most extreme dates don’t distract him from focusing on the relationship. Our helicopter ride up to the glacier and our dog sled ride was breathtaking. I remember thinking nothing could take away from this moment.
However, the more we talking about our relationship and how he was feeling, I felt the storm coming in — and it wasn’t just emotionally. During our conversation on the mountain we actually had to hold filming because of a crazy whiteout snowstorm that blew in. After spending the day on the glacier with Peter, I left with mixed feelings. He had admitted the connection I had with the other men made him unsure at times whether he would invite me to meet his family. It was a reminder that the men had the biggest decision of the season to make this week too. More so than accepting a rose, accepting me into their family’s homes was a leap of faith. I appreciated his honestly but more than ever I feared Peter would never be able to take the risks that one must take to get engaged on this journey.
My conversation over dinner that evening gave me more insight into Peter’s reluctance to say everything was going to work out for us in the end. He was blunt about his uncertainty about being ready to propose. Watching how emotional he became while talking about leaving his ex-girlfriend told me that he was as afraid to break my heart as I was to have it broken. Yet when Peter looked into my eyes and told me he didn’t throw the word love around carelessly yet saw himself on the path to being in love with me, I felt assured it was worth it to risk to move forward to his hometown and see if we could get to that place together.
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The last date of the week brought Eric, Adam, Matt and myself to a château in France to determine who the final man to get a hometown would be. We had already been all around Europe and I felt so grateful to continue to explore yet another country on this journey. There was also something very romantic about being in France to make the final decision; however, going into the day I was actually distraught. The concern that Adam and Matt would be upset with me that I hadn’t given them a one-on-one and we wouldn’t be able to get past that frustration to really see if our relationship held the potential for a hometown was a huge weight on me. I promised myself I wouldn’t let my irritation at the situation take away from the important conversations I was about to have. I don’t know if I could have kept that promise if Matt and Adam hadn’t been so strong.
Matt was as sweet as ever when we spoke and respected the difficult decisions I had made when dividing up my time between the men that week. As I spoke with Matt I realized that he never gave himself the time that he needed to allow himself to pursue me unrestrained. Maybe he was just nervous, or it was the environment? But in reality, he hadn’t been able to get there yet and there were times when he would pull back or tread water with me.
I sobbed saying goodbye to Matt because he reminded me so much of myself. For a moment I remembered what it was like when I was back in Finland after Nick just broke my heart and knowing Matt was experiencing something similar just broke me down. Yet Matt, the gentlest soul I ever knew, somehow ended up comforting me during our goodbye.
My goodbye with Adam later was equally difficult. Although we hadn’t had much one-on-one time together, he always made the most of the time we did share. In the beginning I felt some of his efforts to convince me we had something special felt forced. But that night, looking back on our time together, I knew his creative and thoughtful efforts were genuine. He always put forth the effort and could without a doubt make me laugh. Our feelings were just in different places and I wasn’t sure more time could bring us together.
This journey brought me some men I will never forget, and Adam is certainly one of them. I am a person that does not live with regrets; so saying goodbye to them was bittersweet. They are both amazing men and I know that they’ll both make women very happy one day.
My saving grace after those two goodbyes was having Eric waiting for me, confident and ready to take me back to Baltimore even after sharing how difficult his family situation was growing up. I knew the next week ahead was going to give me so much insight into Peter, Dean, Bryan and Eric and how they became the amazing men they are today. I was truly honored they had accepted my roses and agreed to let me into such an intimate part of their lives knowing many of them had never really brought a woman home to meet their families.
The hometowns next week are truly unbelievable. Some are splendid, others are more perplexing than anyone could have imagined and each will show a much a deeper side of these guys. Dean’s unorthodox hometown proves his restrained relationship with his father to be just as challenging as he’d been preparing me for. However, I found myself unaware of what had really been brewing under the surface that evening. Not until watching back did I see just how emotional that night really was.
Next week poses more questions than ever. Will Peter finally say the word love or will Eric or Dean be the next to go all in? You’ll see it all next Monday when we take it back to the States.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.